Directed by Michael Bay, Transformers: The Last Knight follows the human, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) as he hides away from the government with the Autobots. This movie takes place sometime after Transformers: Age of Extinction and Transformers and humans are at odds again because Transformers are still landing on Earth without anyone knowing why. The government sets up a response team called the Transformers Reaction Force that hunts down and kills Transformers. Only this time, Optimus Prime is gone. The absence of Optimus Prime leaves the Autobots leaderless and unable to respond to the threat of the Transformers Reaction Force until they are forced back into action when a mysterious enemy threatens Earth.
In the opening scene, it is revealed to us that humans and Transformers have been in contact for centuries. The concept of Transformers aiding King Arthur is a silly, but cool one. I for one bought into this story element, but the way it plays out later never really satisfies my expectation for hidden secrets of the Transformers universe. Transformers: The Last Knight is a movie jam-packed with characters without any actual character. What I mean by that is, most of the characters are flat, have no development throughout the film, and I never really care about them by the time the credits roll.
Let’s start with Optimus Prime, the head honcho of the Autobots. He was gone for most of the movie and gets turned evil by the Transformer sorceress, Quintessa. Under her evil influence, he fights fan-favorite Bumblebee. As this was a fight I looked forward to because of the trailers; I felt underwhelmed. The fight does not last that long and doesn’t hold as much emotional meaning as I wanted. It ends in a cheap, dissatisfying way that felt like a deus ex machina. When Optimus Prime eventually does become good again (this was expected), his heroic moments feel forced and never have any weight to them. Bumblebee is the most likable Transformer and makes me look forward to the Bumblebee spinoff that’s set to release in a few years. Megatron is supposed to be the big boss of the Decepticons, but I have not felt a very impactful presence from him since the first film in the franchise. Once again, he feels like a second-rate lackey with not much of a real purpose other than to be a bad guy that the good guys shoot at. There were also instances where other Transformers were jammed into the movie for the sole purpose of selling toys. I do like the introduction of Quintessa and the general Transformers mythos the filmmakers were trying to build, but I never fully bought into the way it was executed.
Cade Yeager’s character is supposed to be this noble, cool father that has a good moral compass and the story leads the audience to believe he is meant to have some greater purpose in the movie. However, any emotional moments or character development Cade was supposed to have, were botched by silly dialogue and unfunny one-liners. In general, the humor is either hit or miss. One could feel the notion that the filmmakers try to force as much humor onto us as they can, often sacrificing storytelling for a laugh. Isabela Moner plays a young girl caught in the middle of the human-Transformers war and almost acts as a foster daughter to Mark Wahlberg's character. Moner’s character is brave, smart, and underutilized. She appears at the beginning of the movie, then disappears for a good eternity, and shows up at the end having absolutely zero presence and zero impact on the film. This contrasts the marketing in which her character is used heavily and even featured in her own T.V. spot. While there was great potential for her character, she fell flat and became a missed opportunity. You could take her out of the movie and there wouldn’t be any consequences because of it. Laura Haddock plays Viviane, a professor at the University of Oxford that is important to the “story” and mythos. The reveal of her lineage should’ve been grand and cool, but just feels bland. I feel the filmmakers did not know how to use her or know what to do with her. Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton is a fun addition the film. Though off the walls and a little bizarre, he is a likable character, and I get the sense Hopkins had fun playing this role.
Even though this is an action movie, it felt like there were just mindless explosions with humans and Transformers fighting for nothing. When the huge battle at the end happens, I was not sure where these new enemies came from. While the movie is a visual spectacle, it also felt like there was just too much visual noise. The movie, in general, is too much of everything; over the top action, forced humor, too many characters, tons of Michael Bay explosions. At the same time, it’s an empty movie with no character development, no substance, and no story. However, this is not anything new because it sticks to the Transformers formula we have been getting for the past 10 years. Michael Bay has openly said this is his last Transformers movie and I really hope it is. He has directed 5 of them of which most are mediocre to bad. I find him to be a talented director with movies such as Bad Boys and Pain & Gain under his belt, but he really needs to move on from the franchise.
It has been 10 years since the debut of the first Transformers, but the film franchise has not gotten better since then. I hope this franchise transforms into something else because it would be a waste hashing out these bad Transformers movies when there’s so much potential with all the lore behind it. If you’re a fan of the Transformers movies, I would say see this because it sticks to the same formula. If you’re not a fan of the Transformers movies and might be interested in seeing this, I’d invite you to stay at home or watch another movie at the theater. Personally, I’d give Transformers: The Last Knight 2.5 out of 5 stars.